Gunung Rinjani National Park lies within the major transition zone (Wallaceae) where the flora and fauna of South East Asia make a dramatic transition that which is typical of Australasia. The Park has a rich variety of plants and animals, although they can be hard to spot due to the terrain and rainforest cover. Sometimes it is seen early in the mornings the rare black Ebony leaf monkey, known locally as Lutung.
The long tailed grey macaque or Kera is common in Lombok and older males are seen on the crater rim. Rusaor deer are forest dwellers and are occasionally seen along the Rinjani trek trail. The smaller Barking deer or Kijang has an alarm call with a distinct dog-like bark. Look for the disturbed ground where the Wild pig or Babihutan has been foraging. Also found in the forest is the Leopard cat or Bodok alas, Palm civet or Ujat and Porcupine or Landak.
A variety of colorful birds live in the forests of the Park. Perhaps the best-known icon of the Park is the Sulphur Crested Cockatoo that is not found any further west of Lombok. Many of the forest-dwelling animals, insects, birds, civets and monkeys owe their survival to the wild fig tree or Beringin as a provider of food and shelter. The pine-like Casuarina species, pine, are a feature of the grassy higher slopes. Orchids or Anggrekis also a feature of the grassland areas, as is Edelweiss or BungaAbadi growing above the tree line; it is a beautiful icon of the Park and one of our best-known sub-alpine plants.
RINJANI MULANG PAKELEM CEREMONY
The annual Hindu ceremony of MulangPekelem, a heritage event in Lombok that held since the 18th century invasion and subsequent settlement of the island by Balinese from the kingdom of Karangasem, always attracts hundreds of celebrants.
The 2006 ceremony, held late in the year, attracted more than 500 celebrants to SegaraAnaklake, 1998 metres above sea level in the crater of 3700-metre high Mt Rinjani.
The 200-metre deep lake is sacred to Hindus (as well as being a place of pilgrimage for Lombok’s majority Moslem population).
In 2006, MulangPekelem was held on November 5, ahead of the twin Hindu Galungan and Kuningan annual festivals at the end of November and beginning of December.
MulangPekelem is a ceremony in which prayers and offerings are made for the safety and prosperity of the people. It dates from a time shortly after the Hindu settlement in west Lombok in which the population was afflicted by prolonged drought and an epidemic.
According to tradition, the king had an apocalyptic vision and instituted a series of ceremonies in which gifts of gold, silver and copper, in the shape of fish and prawns, were offered to the gods at the lake, one of Indonesian Hinduism’s most sacred places, before each rainy season (December to March). The offerings and prayers request peace and prosperity for all.
This year’s ceremony attracted followers from Bali and Java as well as Lombok.
At 3,726 m, Rinjani is the second highest volcano in Indonesia, second only to Mount Kerinci in Sumatra, and it dominates the landscape of the relatively small island of Lombok.
Within its huge 50 km² caldera sits the crater lakeSegaraAnak (Child of the Sea). Eruptions within the caldera have formed a new small cone called appropriately enough, GunungBaru (New Mountain). SegaraAnak has a natural hot spring.
The mountain and its satellites form the Mount Rinjani National Park (Taman Nasional GunungRinjani) – officially 41,000 hectares within the park boundaries and a further 66,000 hectares of protected forest outside.
In 2008, the Indonesian government proposed to UNESCO that Mount Rinjani be one of the world’s official Geo-park. If it was approved by UNESCO, Mount Rinjani would become the first such geological park in Indonesia.
The oldest recorded historical eruption was in 1847. Previous to that, this was a very remote region indeed, hence the lack of records.
There was a spate of activity from 1994 to 1995 which resulted in the further growth of the crater cone GunungBaru, since renamed Gunung Barujari (new- form Mountain). On April, 27, 2009 Gunung Barujari became active again with the activity continuing through to May 2009. The summit ascent routes were closed at that time as the eruptions intensified with plumes of smoke and ash as high as 8,000 m. A Volcanic Explosive Index (VEI):2 rating was issued for the activity between May and December 2009. The ascent routes re-opened on September 14th 2009 but hiking routes down into the crater lake were still deemed unsafe and remained closed.
In February 2010 observers at the Gunung Rinjani Observation Post detected a smoke plume that rose 100 m from the volcano. The activity in early 2010 is centered about Gunung Barujari. On May 1st 2010 a column of smoke was again observed rising from Rinjani issuing eruptions 1,300-1,600 meters tall with thick brown color and strong pressure. On May 5th 2010 a possible ash plume rose to an altitude of 5.5 km (18,000 ft) and drifted 150 km NW. Accordingly the Center of Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation advised that intermittent activity could produce ash plumes to 1,500 m (5,000 ft) above the caldera. In light of this The Volcanic Explosive Index Alert Level was raised to 2 with a recommendation that there be no activity within a radius of 4 km from the eruption at Gunung Barujari.
Rinjani erupted three further times on 23 May 2010 with activity continuing until 24 May 2010. According to the volcano’s official monitoring agency, ash from Mount Barujari was reported as rising up to 2 km into the atmosphere and damaged crops. Lava flowed into the caldera lake, pushing its temperature up from 21°C to 35°C, while smoke spread 12 km. The volcano did not directly threaten villagers during any of the eruptive activity in early 2010 however access to some sections of the Mountain was officially closed or restricted at some times.
The lower and mid levels of the mountain are quite heavily forested. Above the tree line though the slopes are barren and rugged scree slopes and volcanic rock. The views of the crater lake are quite breath-taking from the caldera rim, as is the sunrise. From the absolute peak you can see Bali to the west and Sumbawa to the east.
The lower and middle elevation slopes are densely forested with typical tropical species, including species which occupy the Wallace transitional region between the SE Asian and Australasian flora. Fig trees are especially apparent in the lower forests, as are the giant Syzigium Jambu, with the gnarled and epiphyte-hung Engelhardia BakBakan becoming prominent in the higher elevations. Casuarina woodland (cemara) takes over higher up and eventually these give way to an alpine flora above the treeline.
Lombok is East of the Wallace Line and some bird species with Australasian affinities are therefore apparent. These include honey eaters, cockatoos and green hanging parrots, in addition to species whose heartland is to the West including tits, weavers and tailor-birds. Bird life can be difficult to observe here due to the density of the forest, though if you have patience and are practiced at mimicry many species can be tempted out from cover – if you have the time to spare and the forbearance of your trekking partners.
The familiar long-tailed grey macaque (the Bali temple monkey) is common right up to the crater rim. Of much more interest is the rare ebony leaf monkey which inhabits these forests and whose soft hooting contact call often provides a soothing backdrop to the birdsong. Rusa deer and Muntjacs are more often heard than seen.